Personal injuries are so unexpected they can stop a lot of things from moving forward in your life, especially if you can’t cover your financial obligations following the injury. It can be tough to work or even live comfortably. Getting compensated quickly and fairly is essential to getting your life moving.
For most people, settling their claims outside of court is a great option, but this option has its downsides, too. Understanding the pros and cons of settling is necessary for you to make the right decision for your case.
While settling might result in fair compensation for some people, it might not be fair enough for your specific situation.
Why Choose Us?
At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we work overtime to ensure all our clients are fairly compensated. We understand that fair compensation means living a better life for our clients. Here’s what makes us different:
- A reputable managing partner: Terry Bryant served as a Spring Valley Village Municipal Judge for 22 years. Having handled more than 100,000 cases, he has a unique perspective on how to handle your case. He’s also Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means that the Texas Board of Legal Specialization recognizes his skills.
- An experienced team of lawyers: Mr. Bryant works with an experienced team of lawyers that’s here to get you fair compensation. Our team includes Gregg Anderson, Steve Waldman, and Josh Mintz.
- BBB Accredited: Our law firm has been Better Business Bureau accredited since November 2011, a distinction that proves our dedication to offering clients quality service.
- A long list of happy customers: We’ve worked with many clients who have nothing but good things to say about us. You can read our client testimonials on our website.
Pros and Cons of Settling Your Case
Let’s explore what you need to know to choose between going to trial or settling outside of court. Here are the pros and cons of settling your case:
Pros of Settling Your Personal Injury Case
- Save time: Depending on how complex your case is, your trial might take months or even years to complete. Your case has to go through discovery and several hearings before the final verdict is determined. Settling saves you time as you simply skip the trial process. You can receive your money fairly quickly, usually within 30 days of accepting the settlement.
- Save money:Litigation is expensive. By going to trial, there will be additional case expenses needed to win you case. For example, your case may require one or more expert witnesses. Also, the contingency fee charged typically increases once a lawsuit is filed on your behalf. Settling will help you avoid all these expenses.
- Choose certainty: It’s not certain that you’ll win the trial. New evidence might present itself during discovery, or you might fail to prove that the defendant was at fault. Settling helps you skip this uncertainty and receive some form of compensation for your injuries.
- Choose privacy: Trials are public by nature. Since lawyers will have to put your life before, during and after the injury under the microscope, it is possible for some private information to get exposed to the public. For instance, you might want to keep your medical condition private. Settling assures you this privacy.
- Avoid stressful processes: Trials can be gruesome, from getting grilled by the other party’s lawyers to waiting months to receive the court’s verdict. Settling relieves this stress, especially if the other party is open to negotiation.
Cons of Settling Your Personal Injury Case
- Unfair compensation: Settling is often a compromise so that both parties can move on with their lives. The downside is that you might not receive fair compensation. It’s often hard to determine the true extent of your injury or future medical expenses which could be uncompensated if you settle.
- Not holding the defendant accountable: By settling, the defendant doesn’t accept fault; you both simply reach a compromise. This means that they won’t be held accountable for their actions and could end up causing the same injuries to other people. For instance, a manufacturer that sells defective products could continue selling them after the settlement. Going to trial ensures that they’re held accountable and liable.
The Four Parts of a Personal Injury Claim in Texas
The question of whether you should settle or go to court depends on how strong your claim is. For a claim to be strong in Texas, it has to meet four requirements:
Duty to Exercise Reasonable Care
The defendant must have had a duty to exercise reasonable care. Reasonable care can be either presumed or dictated by the law. For instance, truck drivers have a legal duty to maintain their vehicles and avoid accidents along the road. Medical practitioners have a legal duty to maintain the expected medical standards. Successful personal injury cases always start by proving that the defendant had a legal duty to you.
Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care
The next element is to prove that the defendant breached their legal duty to you as the victim. Their negligence can be reckless, intentional, or unintentional. For instance, an intoxicated driver who caused an accident has failed to exercise reasonable care.
The reasonable care element also applies to the victim. If the court discovers that you were also negligent, your compensation can be reduced or forgone entirely, especially in modified comparative fault states like Texas.
The third consideration is to prove that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused the injury. Even if their negligence isn’t fully to blame for the injury, it must have led to some part of the injury, at the bare minimum. For instance, you must prove that your broken ankle was from slipping and falling at work, not from some different accident.
There Were Actual Damages
The final element you’ll need to prove in your case is that you suffered actual damages. If you didn’t experience any damages, your claim wouldn’t be valid. Minor damages might also not be worth pursuing in a legal action.
The Kind of Damages You Can Recover
The compensation you receive needs to account for both present and future damages you might face from the injury. Understanding the extent of the damages caused is essential when filing your lawsuit or negotiating a settlement. Damages can typically be divided into economic and non-economic damages:
Economic damages are any damages that you can calculate or track. It’s easy to provide bills, receipts, and invoices for such damages. They include:
- Past, current, and future medical bills: Get a doctor to assess your health post-injury. You should document their diagnosis and any medication you’re taking. Take note of other costs like hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, and medication. Most importantly, get the doctor’s opinion on your future medical needs, from rehabilitative therapy to future surgeries.
- Property damage: The defendant should compensate you for any damaged property from the accident. The damaged property includes your car, house, or even phone.
- Lost income or earning capacity: The defendant must compensate you for the impact the injury had on your income. An injury could easily reduce your earning potential or completely put you out of work. Besides asking for the wages you’ve already lost, ensure that you’re compensated for any wages you’ll lose in the future due to the accident.
- Cost of change of plans: An injury can derail specific plans you had, leading to the loss of more money. For instance, you could have to postpone your wedding and end up losing the venue’s deposit. Ensure that you get compensated for such losses.
It’s not always easy to peg a dollar amount to some damages, especially since they are emotive in nature. However, working with a reputable personal injury attorney will help you determine a reasonable compensation amount. Some of these damages include:
- Pain and suffering: Any discomfort that comes from the accident should be compensated. Some factors that will determine the pain and suffering you need to be compensated for are your age, severity of the injury, financial losses, and the long-term effect of the injury.
- Mental anguish: If an accident impacts your mental health, you’ll need to be compensated. This compensation will help you uplift your mental health, from paying for therapy to adopting an emotional support animal.
- Punitive damages: This compensation is meant to punish the defendant for their extreme negligence. It also deters other people from being as negligent.
How Long Do Personal Injury Cases Take?
It’s hard to predict how long your personal injury case might take since no two cases are identical. For starters, you need to have reached maximum medical recovery for you to fully account for your past, current, and future needs.
Second, the easier it is to find evidence, the faster you can get compensated. The onus is on you and your lawyer to maintain a solid record of evidence. You can increase the pace of the case by collecting documents that prove the following:
- Impairments and disabilities
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Cost of nursing care
- Reduction in your earning potential
- Mental and emotional distress.
Third, the law defines a different timeline throughout the lawsuit. For instance, if the defendant’s party demands answers from you, you’ll have a time limit to respond. You could ruin your case by not responding in time.
Noteworthy Information: Texas has a two-year statute of limitation for personal injury cases. If you fail to file your lawsuit by then, the law will bar you from doing so once the two years expire.
Pick the Right Option
There are times when settling will be better than trial, but this isn’t always the case. Only settle if you feel that you’re receiving fair compensation. If not, consider going to trial. It’s better to wait longer for compensation than to receive unfair compensation that’ll leave you paying for your injuries out of your own pocket.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, call us now at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law we offer a free case review to help you determine the best path forward.